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Gwinnett celebrates Trails Day

DACULA - Alison McMillan frequently goes to Little Mulberry Park.

She lives in the Treybyrne section of Hamilton Mill, across the street from the park's Hog Mountain Road entrance.

"We walk in the park every morning with our dogs," McMillan said. "We're here six days a week, Monday through Saturday. It's beautiful. ... We love it."

An event Saturday at Gwinnett's largest park attracted thousands of people, many of whom had never been to the north side of Little Mulberry Park.

"It's beautiful. It didn't feel like I was in Gwinnett County," said Laura Veronee, who lives in the Collins Hill area. "I think it's even more beautiful than the other side."

To celebrate National Trails Day, Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation held the second annual Trail Mix Celebration, said Tammy Gibson, the department's resources and marketing coordinator. Several activities - such as rock climbing, face painting, fishing and pony rides - were set up along the paved trail.

Deb Kovac brought her Mammoth donkey, Apollo, to the park's equestrian area. Apollo, who is 59 inches tall, was listed as one of the day's attractions.

Kovac said she has owned horses for more than 35 years, but she acquired Apollo about a year ago.

The animal control officer said she was enjoying the event.

"It gives me an excuse to come out and meet other horse people in the area," Kovac said.

Buford resident Becky Opp said she participated in the Gwinnett Parks Foundation's race Saturday morning and decided to return to the park with her family.

"Everything's been so fun," Opp said. "The only bad thing is the heat."

Linda Higginbotham, who lives in Flowery Branch, said she came to the event with her grandchildren, who climbed the rock wall and got temporary tattoos.

"We did everything," she said. "It gives everyone a lot of exercise, and it's fun."

Stephanie Campanano, 5, of Lawrenceville rode on the trail on her bicycle.

She nodded and grinned when her father, Filman, asked, "Did you enjoy going up and down and around?"

Filman Campanano said he saw an advertisement for the event in the Gwinnett Daily Post.

"I wanted to come see the park with my children and my wife," he said.

For more information about the county's parks, visit www.gwinnettparks.com.